Developing local players and creating more local competitions is top of the agenda for the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Rugby Union, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i.
And although the results for the national teams this year have been a mixed bag, with the biggest disappointment coming from the Manu Samoa Sevens failure to qualify for the Rio Olympics, Faleomavaega believes nothing will be achieved if we dwell in the past.
“We are strategically looking at the next four years,” he said. “We’re focusing heavily on our development in rugby, locally.
“We’re focusing on our younger team, the Samoa A and the Under 20’s. We want to give them as much opportunities to develop. We are also looking at having more local competitions.”
As for the Manu Samoa 15s, Faleomavaega said there is a need to bring back the ‘flair’ Samoan rugby is usually associated with.
“That flair that has been missing from our teams lately,” he said.
“I think in the past years our team had really good backline because most of our players were from Samoa. And they had that special flair that’s been missing, and I think we need to produce more players locally up to that high level again.
“I mean we are tapping on our players who are playing professionally overseas because our local players do not have the same experience as them when it comes to international test matches. But our local players are very talented and have huge potentials. What we need to do is to develop their talents here and have more competitions here in Samoa.”
Faleomavaega said they are looking at bringing up the level of local competitions in Samoa in terms of rugby.
“There will be a huge revamp of our local competitions and the Union is looking at starting a Super 10 Competition next year,” he said.
“And I think some of the other unions will look at merging into some sort of franchising system to make the competition stronger.
“And at the same time, we want to make sure that it’s not just the players whom we will be focusing on, but also the administration sides of how teams are prepared. We also want to look at our coaches and referees. So those are the areas we are looking at to bring up the standard of our local players and to develop the game here in Samoa.
“Also we want to get back the support we use to have, because nowadays, we’re finding it hard to get sponsors even for local rugby. I think expectations are high nowadays, and I think sponsors want results and we are trying our best to develop our game for the future.”
Faleomavaega said they felt what the disappointment of the country and they were hurting as well with the results from our teams.
“We were disappointed in the sense that it was there for us to take. I know the sevens team are hurting and I know our players in the fifteen were hurting as well before the win on Saturday. But I think the main important thing for us is to learn from it and move on. I know the boys for our 15 team played with so much pride in their jerseys on Saturday and they did the best they could to make our country proud.
“The players were hurting too, they were hurting because they disappointed the whole country and that they didn’t perform well in the other games. And they wanted to make it right with the game with Tonga.”